We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Sociology

SOCI41160: Dissertation in Sociology/Criminology

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to L3KF09 Sociology
Tied to L3KC09 Criminology and Criminal Justice


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The purpose of the dissertation is to give students the opportunity to work on a suitable subject of their own choice and to utilise the techniques developed in the research modules. An MSc dissertation is designed to assess a student's ability to define a researchable thesis in the light of past and current academic research. Students need to demonstrate a capacity for independent thought and to use their critical and analytical abilities, including the use of appropriate research methods, in the interpretation of a substantial quantity of relevant material (empirical and theoretical). Further, they need to be able to write up the results of any research carried out in an extended and coherent form, paying close attention to matters of structure in addition to normal expectations regarding referencing and bibliographic information.


  • A supervised research project

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Have demonstrated a systematic knowledge of existing scholarship in their chosen field of study.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Have demonstrated a systematic knowledge of alternative ways of approaching a research question in sociology and/or criminology;
  • Have demonstrated handling research methods and tools, analysing data and communicating results, and/or a sophisticated grasp of the theoretical and policy issues related to the chosen topic;
  • Where empirical work is involved to have demonstrated an awareness of ethical issues in social research, and, where relevant, of the importance of reflexivity about their own role as researcher.
Key Skills:
  • Have demonstrated self-direction and originality in tackling and solving sociological/criminological/criminal justice research questions;
  • Have worked autonomously (under the direction of their supervisor) in planning, executing, analysing and writing-up a piece of criminological research;
  • Have demonstrated independent learning ability, the exercise of initiative and skills in written communication.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students will be receive one to one supervision with a member of academic staff for a total of six hours over the year.
  • Students will also have the opportunity to take part in two dissertation workshops and master classes.
  • Assessment will be by one summative dissertation.
  • Formative assessment includes individual feedback on one draft chapter. Further formative support will be given through verbal feedback during the dissertation poster workshop, dissertation master-class workshop and one-to-one supervision.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 6 1 hour 6
Group Workshops 2 1 hour 2
Preparation/Reading/Fieldwork 592
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 15000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One draft chapter. Poster outlining the dissertation research for dissertation poster workshop.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University